Skip to main content

Life in Belfast

Belfast: one of Europe’s top 10 destinations – CNN, 2013

Belfast is one of Europe’s most friendly and fashionable regional capitals. Described by Lonely Planet as a ‘must-see visitor destination’, it was also voted one of the world’s top 10 destinations by National Geographic Traveler in 2012. Referred to as a ‘treasure with an incredible atmosphere’, Belfast offers a variety of cultural, sporting, educational and social opportunities. Whether you’re a culture-lover, an explorer, a sportsperson or a history buff, this part of the UK has something to offer everyone. Queen’s is proud to be a driving force in Northern Ireland’s cultural, artistic and economic life, celebrating the innovation and creativity of its people and enhancing its reputation as an international centre of learning.

Key factsNorthern Ireland: a unique location

Northern Ireland is renowned for its beautiful beaches and coastal scenery and has a fascinating history and cultural heritage that showcases stunning castles, monasteries and historic industry. The Titanic was built here and the region is renowned for the friendliness of its population and the vibrancy of the local ‘craic’. It is the perfect UK study destination for students who seek a gateway university location to easily explore Ireland, the UK and mainland Europe.

Lowest cost of living in the UK

In the 2012 Worldwide Cost of Living survey carried out by Mercer, Belfast was recognised as having the lowest cost of living in the UK. We estimate that you should allow £5,500–£7,000 to cover your expenses for a full year. Please note that these amounts do not take account of funds to support any dependants. For immigration purposes, non-EU students will be required to show evidence of funds to cover living expenses. For more information, visit

Queen’s campus and location: access all areas

Queen’s University’s historic, city-based campus is set in south Belfast, 15 minutes’ walk from the vibrant city centre. Travelling to and from Northern Ireland is easy and cheap. Other major UK cities are within an hour’s flying time from Belfast’s two airports and are serviced by multiple daily flights. You can also fly direct to many destinations in mainland Europe and North America. Dublin is only two hours from Belfast by train, and there are regular ferries to Scotland and England.

Student life in Belfast

Queen’s is at the heart of the city’s culture, arts and social scenes. Whatever the time of year, Belfast is the ultimate student city, offering a huge selection of places to shop, socialise, eat and relax – all within walking distance of the cosmopolitan University campus. No matter how large or small your budget is, or what your interests are, you are sure to find something to see and do in Belfast.


Belfast boasts a wide range of entertainment venues including an arena, concert halls and an opera house, as well as more intimate theatres and clubs. Together they play host to stand-up comedy and theatrical performances, international music artists, such as the Foo Fighters, U2 and Lady Gaga, as well as world-class music festivals and events such as the MTV Europe Music Awards. The University’s own Students’ Union regularly plays host to bands, comedy gigs and other entertainment. Film fans will be treated to a range of multiplex cinemas throughout the city, as well as the University’s own full-time cinema, the Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT), which presents the best in classic and new world cinema.

Shop ’til you drop

Belfast offers shoppers a mix of big-name stores, designer boutiques, innovative arts and crafts shops and rejuvenated markets. City centre shopping centres such as Victoria Square and Castle Court offer a wide selection of High Street shops to suit all tastes. There is also a variety of vintage, charity and low-cost outlets throughout this stylish city. Read more about shopping in Belfast.

Food and drink

From the finest European and world cuisine, to Michelin-starred local restaurants and budget cafes, Belfast offers something to suit every culinary taste and budget.

Historic pubs, stylish bars and cool clubs help to ensure Belfast lives up to its reputation as a "treasure" with an "incredible atmosphere" (National Geographic Traveller 2012).

A safe place to study

Northern Ireland was recently named the safest region in the UK (British Crime Survey 2012). Queen’s University is located in a quiet residential suburb about 15 minutes’ walk from Belfast city centre. Street crime and burglary rates in Belfast are much lower than in comparable European or American cities (Northern Ireland Annual Abstract of Statistics 2009) and the overall trend of recorded crime in Northern Ireland has been downward in recent years – the 2009–10 crime level was the lowest observed in the last decade (PSNI Annual Statistical Report, March 2010). The increasing numbers of visitors coming to Belfast often comment on the warm and sincere welcome they receive. For more information, visit the official tourism websites at and